If you talk to me at community strength then you’ll know I’m a believer that apathy is the primary cause of fading communities. I’m starting to think there’s another factor that’s just as important: financial independence, or local self-reliance as the amazing ILSR group puts it.
Bear with me here. If neighbors are stumbling financially, they don’t have time to engage with others or invest in their community, that’s obvious. But where does the little money they have go? If you drive around KCK, you’ll note a large percent of business are chains. Also, the average for America is 36% renters, but KCK is at around 50%, so it’s a high rental market. A lot of the rental property around KCK is owned by large property management corporations. When residents shop and pay their rent, a large chunk of that revenue simply leaves the area, the money flows to other cities. The same way a large portion of the profit flows to Bentonville when you shop at Walmart.
Well what would happen if we kept more money circulating in a community? (That’s one of the main goals of the ILSR group) We are throwing together a site to help support local producers. We’ll also be looking into how to get more local landlords. I imagine we would see great improvements after a few years of keeping more money local. It will increase the tax base as well as empower business owners to improve their community.
To play devil’s advocate, imagine it’s a great success and we get the majority of America on-board. What happens if we extrapolate that a decade and there’s no more Dollar Generals, Walmarts, and all communities are self-reliant? Would that hurt America’s global strength because we wouldn’t have massive companies vacuuming up money from all over the country anymore? Does there have to be a trade-off between local and national strength? Or what if it’s a hybrid and we have national co-ops that can stand on the global stage the same way Walmart can?